Book Review: The Prayer Box

23 Jul

prayerbox-standingcoverWhen Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Chapter 1

LisaWingatepubpicLisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of 16 books.  Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its fifteenth printing from Penguin Putnam.  Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen(2010). In 2011, Lisa’s Novel, Never Say Never, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award.  Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, in mainstream fiction.  Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational southern fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read.  Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

My Impressions:

I got a sneak peak at The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate, due out in September, through a unique and quite innovative way. I was chosen to be part of Lisa’s Sisterhood of The Traveling Book in which 13 books were sent out to groups of 4 women or sisterhoods to read, comment on and chronicle the book’s travel. I am #2 in my Sisterhood group. The reading experience took on a deeper dimension because of the comments and highlights by big sister Brenda.  And because I did the same, I felt a deeper connection to the characters, the author and the other sisters in my group. Thanks so much Lisa for this great opportunity.

The Prayer Box is written from the first person perspective of Tandi Jo Reece, a young mother on the run with her two children. She ends up in the Outer Banks where she spent happy days while visiting her grandparents. Those memories have helped her to withstand an unstable childhood, foster homes, two unplanned pregnancies, a prescription drug dependency and now her flight from an abusive husband. Tandi is a mess. But her desperate wish to change her life and the future for her children intersects with the prayer letters of her reclusive and now deceased landlady. Through Iola’s letters, Tandi learns about a loving and faithful Father who listens and responds in ways more wonderful than she could imagine.

I loved the characters in The Prayer Box. Tandi undergoes a transformation that is miraculous. Iola’s real life, thoughts and character are revealed through her prayer letters giving the reader and Tandi a sense of really knowing her. And Paul, with his crazy Hawaiian shirts, is the best friend and love interest perfect for Tandi. The ending of the book will have you crying — the promise of James 5:16 illustrated in a wonderful way.

I very highly recommend The Prayer Box. This is a must read that will will stay with you for a long time.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great For Book Clubs.

(Thanks to Lisa Wingate for the chance to read this book. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

picmRKFtqA Taste of — The Prayer Box

Iola makes banana beignets for the UPS driver. Tandi in turn continues this tradition. Enjoy the recipe for Banana Beignets courtesy of

To pre-order your copy of The Prayer Box, click the image below.

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Prayer Box”

  1. semicolonsherry July 27, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    This book sounds really good. I know I’ve read something else by this author, but I can’t think what. That’s why I keep a blog. I’ll look there.

    • rbclibrary July 27, 2013 at 1:02 am #

      It was excellent. I have read several by Lisa Wingate and have liked them all, but this is by far my favorite. She is also a favorite of my book club.

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